The Harry Potter film franchise is the second highest-grossing film series in the world with $7.7 billion in worldwide receipts. Deathly Hallows Part 2 might have been released in 2011, but die-hard fans haven’t forgotten the magic and they probably never will. Self-styled ‘Potter Heads’ are still obsessed with their beloved characters and they care about the way they’re portrayed. J.K Rowling keeps adding more to the lore of the books, creating blog posts on her website Pottermore and tweeting facts about the characters that she had left out until now. Fans don’t always take too kindly to the new information about characters they care so deeply for.
Back in 2007 Rowling spoke at Carnegie Hall in New York, and she confirmed a classic fan theory that Albus Dumbledore was gay. Dumbledore was the Headmaster of Hogwarts and Harry’s mentor, and fans had long suspected that his difficult relationship with villainous best friend Gellert Grindelwald might have been further complicated by a deeper emotional relationship between the two. Responding to a question from the audience, Rowling admitted that Dumbledore did fall love with his best friend but then Grindelwald turned out to be more interested in domination of the dark arts. Dumbledore was "terribly let down" and went on to destroy his rival. That love, she said, was “Dumbledore's great tragedy. Falling in love can blind us to an extent".
The latest project from the world of Harry Potter is the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, fronted by Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. The films are effectively prequels and they follow Newt, animal-lover and explorer, and the rise of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. We got a glimpse of Grindelwald, who is being played by Johnny Depp, at the end of the first film and fans weren’t happy about the controversial actor being cast. Depp was going through a difficult divorce with his wife Amber Heard at the time, where she was alleging that he had physically abused her, and fans were disappointed that he had been cast and seemingly supported by Rowling and the crew. Jude Law was cast as a young Dumbledore soon after, and fans were overjoyed at the first images released of the full cast. People were hopeful that the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald would be fully explored in the second film The Crimes of Grindelwald but director David Yates yesterday poured cold water over the excitement.
When asked if Dumbledore was finally going to be portrayed as a gay man, Yates answered
“Not explicitly. But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”.
Fans were less than pleased about the lack of representation for a canonically gay character, as Dumbledore’s sexuality is never explicitly stated in the books or any of the films. Given Rowling’s active part in movements for equality, and the inclusive message of Harry Potter, fans were sorely disappointed that the films were continuing to shy away from showing a gay character in all their complexity.
jkr: dumbledore is gay lol— lucy (@_avasharpe) January 31, 2018
fans: okay but u didn't put it in the source material
jkr: i know lol
*ten years later*
fans: okay you've got a chance to put it in canon now
jkr: hehe lol i know
fans: so are you gonna
jkr: no lol
this is the proof that jk rowling only said dumbledore was gay in order to gain more attention, not bc she supported the lgbt+ community. she’s a fucking hypocrite are we surprised though? no. https://t.co/4CtKkwmd2X— alice (@grangershug) January 31, 2018
Rowling weighed in on Twitter late night last night to point out that none of us have seen the screenplay yet, so we should wait before jumping to conclusions. All fair and solid advice. But she also insinuated that any fans that might be voicing their disappointment can look forward to being blocked by her. Nice.
Being sent abuse about an interview that didn't involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that's only one instalment in, is obviously tons of fun, but you know what's even *more* fun? pic.twitter.com/Rj6Zr8aKUk— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 31, 2018